Michigan Allows Medical Marijuana

The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act became effective December 4, 2008. On that date, the people of the State of Michigan found and declared, based in part upon the finding of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine March 1999 report, that there are beneficial uses for marihuana in treating or alleviating the pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions. Since approximately 99 out of every 100 marihuana arrests in the United States are made under state law, rather than under federal law, changing state law would protect from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill people who have a medical need to use marihuana. Even though federal law prohibits any use of marihuana except under very limited circumstances, states are not required to prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. for the health and welfare of its citizens, Michigan joins Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington as states which do not penalize the medical use and cultivation of marihuana.The Act is codified at MCL 333.26421 – 333.26430.

MCL 333.26423 defines “Debilitating medical condition” as (1) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, nail patella, or the treatment of these conditions; (2) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces 1 or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis; and (3) Any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the department, as provided for in section 5(a).

The use must be a “medical use” defined as the acquisition, possession, cultivation, manufacture, use, internal possession, delivery, transfer, or transportation of marihuana or paraphernalia relating to the administration of marihuana to treat or alleviate a registered qualifying patient’s debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with the debilitating medical condition. The user must be a “qualifying patient” or a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition. The patient must have a “written certification” which is a document signed by a physician, stating the patient’s debilitating medical condition and stating that, in the physician’s professional opinion, the patient is likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of marihuana to treat or alleviate the patient’s debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with the debilitating medical condition.

The qualifying patient and/or their primary caregiver must have a registry identification card and must not possess more than 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana or 12 marihuana plants in order to avoid arrest, or other civil penalty or disciplinary action. The Act also notes that a person shall not be denied custody or visitation of a minor for acting in accordance with this act, unless the person’s behavior is such that it creates an unreasonable danger to the minor that can be clearly articulated and substantiated. If the qualifying patient or primary caregiver is in possession of the registry identification card and does not exceed the amounts allowed, there is a presumption that they are engaged in the medical use of marihuana.

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